Tuesday, October 20, 2020

GOP group should look up 'nonpartisan'

| September 20, 2020 1:00 AM

Here they go again. The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is “vetting” candidates — including those in nonpartisan races — and will share their wisdom with the faithful eager to see who earned a shiny red R after their name.

Be afraid.

Since its takeover several years ago by Libertarians tipsy on tea party libations, the central committee has done its best to influence nonpartisan elections, in particular the Coeur d’Alene City Council. Their efforts have amounted to not much, yet they keep trying to pry our community apart with their political crowbar.

What is it about the word “nonpartisan” they don’t get? These are not illiterate people, nor are they stupid. What they are is determined to fill as many elected positions as possible with like-minded people, qualifications for the job be damned.

This time around, they have three Republican precinct committeemen bidding to take the reins of the North Idaho College Board of Trustees — unpaid and unabashedly nonpartisan positions. All three might be great guys brandishing strong conservative credentials, but that’s no guarantee they will effectively oversee the exceedingly challenging, complex operations of an institution of higher learning.

That’s the issue in a microcosmic view. There’s something bigger and more disturbing at work here.

A prominent Republican elected official whose conservatism is irrefutable spoke with the editor on Thursday after reading The Press article explaining the KCRRC’s attempt to “vet” all the candidates, including those in nonpartisan races.

“The obvious question is, Who vets the vetters?” this official said. “It’s really getting out of hand.”

What the central committee is doing conjures up images that go beyond distasteful or politically incorrect.

“This reminds me of the purity laws in Nazi Germany — to see who’s pure enough to marry,” the official said.

Finding out where candidates stand on important issues isn’t just a group’s right, it’s a public service. But uncovering who adheres most strictly to a party line and who has dared support a candidate of another persuasion while almost ignoring the depth and breadth of experience a candidate has that would make her or him particularly qualified to do the job? That’s what the KCRCC is prioritizing.

The questionnaire clearly states this goal: "We will be searching for and rating men and women of good character, virtue and integrity who agree with our state Republican Platform and hold Constitutional and Traditional Values."

The first question on the survey is, "1. Do you agree with the Idaho Republican Platform and where might you agree most or least with it? Please explain." That sets the tone. Only one of 10 questions deals specifically with a candidate’s qualifications.

Nobody doubts that we live in an increasingly partisan world, which has served to divide and alienate us more than ever. Thanks to the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, the local divide is growing a little wider.